LaBerge Memo Raises Questions about Deal’s Interference with Ethics Office

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nathan deal(APN) ATLANTA — In a new twist in the Gov. Nathan Deal ethics scandal, Holly LaBerge, Executive Secretary of the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission–who initially was seen as a main player in keeping any investigation of Gov. Deal from coming to the light–has produced a memo showing that she too faced pressure from the Governor’s office.

 

 

According to the memo, dated July 17, 2012, LaBerge claims she was threatened and pressured by Gov. Nathan Deal’s office in 2012 to “make the complaints” against the governor “go away.”

 

 

The memo was first obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper through a request under the Georgia Open Records Act.

 

 

The text of the late-in-coming memo is as follows, according to Executive Secretary Holly LaBerge on July 17th, 2012:

 

 

In the memo, LaBarge claims that on July 16, 2012, at 4.44 pm CST, she received a text message to her personal cell phone from Chris Riley, Chief of Staff to Governor Deal:

 

 

So since you are at the beach, with your feet in the sand and probably something cold to drink.  Does this mean we can resolve all DFG issues by Monday? J

 

 

DFG stands for Deal for Governor.

 

 

“I replied via test at 8.46 pm CST:

 

 

Well I am on vacation but it’s apparently a “working” one.  A realistic counter by noon tomorrow is the best chance of a resolution.  Otherwise it will be out of my hands and resolved on Monday,” LaBerge wrote.

 

 

“At 8.50 pm CST Chris Riley responded via text:

 

 

That will be difficult, Ryan said two of issues, legal fees and aircraft are not even on the table for discussion.  How can we give you a realistic counter when not all issues are ready?  My non legal opinion.  Have a good vacation.  I wouldn’t worry about having to work thru it,” LaBarge wrote.

 

 

Ryan, as referenced in the memo, is Ryan Teague, Deal’s chief counsel.

 

 

“I did not respond.

 

 

“On July 17, 2012 at 6.31 am CST I received a text message to my personal cell phone from Ryan Teague:

 

 

Holly — its Ryan.  Would like to chat soon when you are in the office.  I can walk over.  Thanks.

 

 

“I replied at 6.35 am CST:

 

 

Hi Ryan.  I’m on vacation this week so if you need to talk before Monday it will need to be by phone.  I apologize for the inconvenience.

 

 

“He replied at 6.36 am CST:

 

 

Ok. Let’s talk by phone then.  Are u free this afternoon?

 

 

“I replied at 6.38 am CST:

 

 

I will be on the beach but if you can give me an approximate time I will be near my phone.

 

 

“He replied at 6.41 am CST:     

 

 

1pm?

 

 

“I replied at 6.42 am CST:

 

 

Sounds good.  I will wait to hear from you then.

 

 

LaBerge then offers a play-by-play as to how Deal’s people intended to sweep this under the rug before the Ethics Commission meeting that following Monday morning.

 

 

Teague offered a settlement to wipe the slate clean of any outstanding fines on Deal’s plate.

 

 

Contrary to the appearances of Ms. LaBerge’s role as helping to cover up Deal’s ethical violations, as reported on by Atlanta Progressive News and other news sources, LaBerge now claims she pushed back against the proposed settlement, citing consent orders and the number of violations, having yet to be voted on by the Ethics Commission.

 

 

A back and forth ensued, according to LaBerge: “Ryan informed me that it was not in the agency’s best interest for these cases to go to a hearing Monday; nor was it in their best political interest either and that our rule making authority may not happen if the complaints were not resolved prior to Monday.  I responded by expressing my surprise that the threat of rule making [sic] being withheld was being used to make the complaints go away.”

 

 

The agency wanted rulemaking authority, but the Governor’s Office was threatening to withhold or interfere with such authority if the DFG case did not go their way.

 

 

“I know of no communications along those lines,” Deal told the AJC.  “Like I say, I haven’t seen anything that would evidence that.”

 

 

“Only time will tell why the woman who was recruited for her ethics job by the governor’s office no longer believes Gov. Deal can protect her and has now turned to take aim at him,” Better Georgia wrote on their website.

 

 

“It may be because the FBI now has the records that Attorney General Sam Olens kept out of the [Kalbermann] civil trial.  Or it may simply be that the ethics chief knows even more than we do right now and the facts are against the governor.”

 

 

As previously reported by APN, the taxpayers of Georgia now have to foot the bill for Gov. Deal’s poorly planned attempt to cover up two things: (1) a Georgia Department of Revenue investigation looking into the sale of Deal’s former company Copart, Inc.–which owed 74 million dollars in back taxes to the State–to his number one competitor; and (2) gross violations of the Georgia Campaign Finance Act by Deal’s 2010 Gubernatorial campaign.

 

 

LaBerge ordered ethics commission staff to alter and destroy documents, denying a need for any further scrutiny into Deal’s campaign, and creating pretexts to justifying the need to fire any persons working on the investigations, according to the evidence in the Kalbermann whistleblower suit.

 

 

Thanks to LaBerge, the investigation of Deal’s campaign finance was dismissed just two months after Kalbermann and Streicker were fired.

 

 

The upcoming General Election may be the only chance for voters to hold Gov. Deal accountable for his intolerable actions against the state and taxpayers

 

 

Is this enough of a crisis to turn Georgia blue?  

 

 

State Sen. Jason Carter (D-Decatur), the Democratic nominee for Governor, has been taking advantage of the situation to raise ethical concerns about the current Governor.  As of the end of July 2014, the Carter Campaign for Governor is ahead of Governor Deal’s campaign by a margin of 6 points.

 

 

Even before Deal was elected Governor, he was being investigated as a U.S. Congressman.  He resigned from Congress in order to end the Congressional investigation, and yet the voters of Georgia chose him to be Governor.


(END/2014)

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